Blogger is not likely to reveal source

The leak

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The name Guido Fawkes was not mentioned yesterday during the hearings into media ethics because – to quote the presiding judge, Lord Leveson – "I am concerned to deprive the particular website of that oxygen".

Sadly for the judge, the blogger Paul Staines, who runs the Guido Fawkes site, could well be high on the oxygen of publicity by the time he has completed his scheduled appearance on Thursday.

He will be asked how he obtained of a draft copy of the evidence that Tony Blair's former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, is presenting to the Leveson Inquiry. It is unlikely that he will tell, and unclear what Lord Leveson will do next.

Yesterday, the judge issued an order under the Inquiries Act banning publication or disclosure of witness statements before the witness has given evidence, but in this case the damage, such as it is, has already been done. The only certain outcome is more hits for the UK's most visited political blog.

How much Staines himself enjoys his enforced appearance is another matter. Guido Fawkes, the persona he launched online seven years ago, is an attention seeker who routinely uses his Twitter feed or links on his site for self-advertisement, but that is for a reason. Unlike the average journalist, Staines is a businessman who runs his internet operation for profit, and he needs his high volume of traffic.

On a personal level he is not so keen on publicity. When he launched the site, he tried in vain to keep his identity secret. On his first appearance on BBC's Newsnight he insisted on appearing anonymously with his face blacked out.

Those days are long gone. By the end of this week, Paul Staines will be as recognisable as most of the politicians and journalists against whom he has waged a seven-year online insurgency.